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The Single vs Album debate came up again...

The Single vs Album debate came up again and it got me thinking...

This is my favourite release cycle:

  1. Single: Tells me who you are and what you sound like

  2. EP: Exploring your sound. Maybe do a couple.

  3. Album: This really is who we are and what we do.

  4. Repeat.

As a fan I generally don’t buy singles - although I understand they have a purpose - so the constant single release thing doesn’t do it for me. Usually the many singles argument is anchored in the idea that Spotify is a discovery tool, but in truth it’s not. You point people there, they’ve already discovered you. Sure playlists are a thing but the real good ones are rare as rocking horse poo!

You can of course be ‘discovered’ on Spotify, but it’s not really designed to push new indie music to fans. It’s designed to push bigger selling artists at you due to contracts with the majors - it’s not a level playing field so don’t treat it like one.

Spotify has a purpose, I’m not saying ignore it. E.g. I’ve never promoted my own bands Spotify and yet a handful of people in South Africa love our music on it for some reason. However, it’s just 1 piece of the puzzle getting fans into the funnel, use your time wisely.

One of my New Year resolutions is to put more time into the social side of Bandcamp. Have you seen the feed on the app? There are communities of people out there who will BUY your music - go find those niche groups and follow them.

There are lots of things Bandcamp needs to implement to be a more perfect solution. Playlists, artist play all etc are surprisingly missing, and the way they take the merch cut confuses some people, but regardless they are nailing the social side more than anyone at the moment.

I get the argument for the drip feed approach of course, and it works for some. But for me I’m generally losing focus at single 2 and by 3 I’m just waiting for the album. I listen to albums, all day, every day.

So why EPs? If you really want to give people a taster EPs are the way forward for me. Some of the greatest releases ever are EPs. Check out some classics here (and this list doesn’t include Jar Of Flies I don’t think!)

You can skip that step on some cycles of course - you don’t have to do an EP in between every album. In fact that would be a bit silly. But it’s a great way to shape your sound when starting out and a great way to explore new directions after a few albums.

The single a month thing is driven at building your mailing list - this is a great thing to do but I don’t agree with this way of doing it. You will get more drop outs because people get bored. They want the album.

Generally in business orgs are focusing less on paid ads and content marketing and more on social selling / social engagement. This kind of marketing will explode now as trade events are still limited due to Covid - think of gigs as trade events in our world. Social engagement is the way things are really moving in marketing. And it’s not even lead by marketing people! It’s great for indie artists, and means you don’t have to release a million singles to get noticed.

But that’s a whole other blog - something we’ll come back to.

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